OCTOBER 9, 2003

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3603

Water Temperature: 69-72 F

Conditions are changing as the water cools. Stripers that were huddled near Halls Crossing for the past two weeks are expanding their range. There were less surface boils in the Halls area while quick boils from small schools of stripers were seen both uplake and down. Smallmouth are activated as fleeing shad race away from hungry stripers directly towards shore where hungry bass are waiting.

Investigation of a fish kill in Moki canyon determined that oxygen poor water is common in the upper lake. A flash flood brought muddy water into Moki, mixed with canyon water already low on oxygen and used up all the oxygen in the flood area. Many shad and game fish were killed. Oxygen lags at water depths of 30 to 45 feet in the main channel and in many canyons. Oxygenated water rests below the depleted zone. The fish kill was an isolated event but it is important to note that bass and stripers will probably not feed in water deeper than 30 feet from Escalante to Hite. Predators and prey are both close to the surface. A great fishing strategy is to use surface lures (jumpin minnow, super spook jr., and poppers) and shallow running crankbaits (rattletraps) to catch a wide variety of fish. Since birds can see shallow fish from the air, the best fishing spots are usually directly beneath a perch where ravens or blue herons are resting. Use bird activity to mark the starting point. Quickly fish the top with surface lures to find active bass and stripers. Hop from point to point to get the bait in front of as many fish as possible. Covering lots of water will result in more fish in the live well at the end of the day.

There is more oxygen at depth from the San Juan to Wahweap. Predators in this reach are ranging deeper than those in the upper lake. Bass are finding their own shad schools but will still respond to a striper boil. A few boils have finally been seen in the lower lake. There is a repeatable boil in Navajo Canyon near the big sand beach midway up the canyon. It seems that stripers are feeding better mid day than early in the morning. Perhaps direct sunlight makes the shad school easier to see. For whatever reason boils are happening from 8 am to 2 pm. Expect to find a quick boil anywhere in the San Juan, Hidden Passage, Rock Creek, Last Chance, or Warm Creek. These boils will increase in intensity and catchability with time. For now, at least boils have been seen and soon striper catch will increase.

In the lower lake, fishing strategy would be to fish grubs or senkos on outside main channel points at 25-40 feet. Keep an eye on the channel for a striper boil but concentrate on the deep smallmouth bass for most of the action. Surface lures work in the lower lake when cast from the deep water of the main channel into coves and pockets of shallow water very close to the depths. The bigger bass will be taken on topwater but soft plastics will catch more fish. If you like topwater fishing this is a very good time to be on Powell.